While there were too many social rules in the past, the signs are that today there are too few.
Social rules exist to provide a structure for a harmonious society: too many and a society is rigid and intolerant and too few and a society is inconsiderate and rude.
There was a time when people rang or wrote to say thankyou for a meal. No longer. This probably matters less than the lack of thankyous for kind, considerate or helpful acts or for gifts given, even those gifts you don’t particularly like but which once would have been viewed from the perspective that it is the thought that counts.
We were brought up to say thankyou whenever someone did something for us, gave something to us, invited them into their homes, fed us or acted in any way which was a gesture of giving.
We brought our children up the same way but social attitudes are not formed by parents alone and some will always forget what they were taught and follow the lead of the herd. And the lead of the herd in this day and age is generally selfish if not self-obsessed and dismissive, if not disdainful of the feelings of others.
Levels of thoughtlessness at best and rudeness at worst and gracelessness at best and cruelty at worst, abound across modern social structures.
It’s the ‘instant fix,’ ‘me first and last,’ ‘ I want and must have and will get’ generation.
There is and always has been something called ‘the right thing’ because generally it is the considerate, polite, mature and kind thing to do in a given circumstance. We dismiss such social rules at our peril and squander our children’s heritage in the doing.